JR Tolbert

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YEAR IN REVIEW: Top Five State Policy Battles of 2015

Posted by JR Tolbert on Dec 10, 2015 2:00:00 PM


Many of us spend New Year’s Eve watching football, especially ESPN’s rewind of the top 10 plays of the year. It may not be SportsCenter, but here is AEE’s top five list of state policy victories, setbacks, and stalemates for advanced energy in 2015 – many of them on issues that will carry over into the new year. As a highlight reel, it may leave something to be desired. But replaying this year’s skirmishes might just help the advanced energy industry and its allies prepare for the next round of battles in 2016.

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Topics: State Policy, Year in Review

In New Report and Before the Supreme Court, Demand Response is in the Spotlight

Posted by JR Tolbert on Oct 22, 2015 4:01:22 PM


Actual peak load forcast in Massachusetts in 2015 was 12,287 MW. Photo: Boston from above via Robbie Shade.

Demand for electricity can spike during just a few hours a year, and typically 10 percent of our electric system capacity is built to meet demand in just 1 percent of hours during the year. This comes at a significant cost to consumers. Last week, Advanced Energy Economy released a new report, “Peak Demand Reduction Strategy,” showing that states that implement peak demand programs can significantly reduce costs for customers, strengthen reliability of electric service, and ease compliance with EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The day before, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will determine whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has authority to regulate payments for demand response, a primary mechanism for reducing peak demand. In all, it was a big week for efforts to get spikes in electricity demand under control.

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Topics: State Policy

In Michigan, a Promising Process Upended by Legislation that Would Unravel Advanced Energy Commitments

Posted by JR Tolbert on Aug 13, 2015 2:52:28 PM

For over a year, the advanced energy industry in Michigan has engaged in a good faith effort to reshape the state’s energy policy. Throughout the process all parties have had reason to be optimistic about the legislation that would come out of this process. The level of public and stakeholder engagement led by Senator Mike Nofs, chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, was more in-depth than usual, and in March, Gov. Rick Snyder delivered an energy address that called for Michigan to reduce energy waste through increases in efficiency, as well as continue to diversify its energy portfolio with renewable energy. That’s why the pair of bills filed by Nofs and his committee vice chair took everyone by surprise.

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Topics: State Policy

A Win and a Threat on Energy Efficiency in the Keystone State

Posted by JR Tolbert on Jul 23, 2015 3:40:08 PM


The past two months have been a whirlwind for energy efficiency policy in Pennsylvania. This period was marked by the high point of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) issuing a strong final rule for Phase III of Act 129, the next stage of the state’s energy efficiency mandate, and a low from the state legislature with the introduction of SB 805, which would exempt large industrial and commercial users, reducing funding for energy efficiency improvements by all customers and making efficiency gains subject to corporate whim.

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Topics: State Policy

Ohio’s Electricity Future Looks Like Advanced Energy

Posted by JR Tolbert on Jun 4, 2015 12:05:00 PM


In 2014, the Ohio legislature passed SB 310, which instituted a two-year freeze on the state’s advanced energy programs. In addition to hitting the pause button on energy efficiency and renewable energy investment in the state, the legislation also formed an Energy Mandates Study Committee that is tasked with examining the state’s energy policy and making recommendations on the fate of these requirements. But the real question for Ohio is not about mandates established in the past, or the lack of them now. Rather, the question is about Ohio’s energy future.

A new report, prepared for our state partner Ohio Advanced Energy Economy by the Analysis Group, looks at different scenarios the state could consider to meet its energy needs and provides a way to evaluate those strategies. Ohio has a choice between several options that utilize advanced energy technologies, all of which have positive characteristics, and one – propping up old, inefficient power plants with contracts that put ratepayers on the hook for above-market prices – that has the fewest pluses and the most minuses.

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Topics: State Policy